Cultural Mosaic

by Zehorit Heilicher, Tastemaker in Residence

  Our Yemenite Engagement Ceremony - May 1988

Our Yemenite Engagement Ceremony - May 1988

You know that phone booth that Clark Kent uses to change into his Superman persona? Confession: I have one too. Mine hangs somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean, hovering over the Straits of Gibraltar as you cross into the Mediterranean Ocean. Traveling from the U.S.A, I enter the booth with my American accent and my Minnesota Nice manners, exiting with my native Hebrew, my love for the Arab language and culture as well as my dusty outspoken manner. 

Twenty-seven years of living outside the Middle East have not reduced my thirst for the vibrant color, emotive music and flavorful cuisine of the Middle East. My current home is filled with eclectic art and color from the Mideast and the U.S, while my kitchen is stocked with everything from Ras El Hanout (Middle Eastern magical spice mix) to Italian blends and Herbs des Provence. My playlists include James Taylor, Andrea Bocelli, Gal Costa, as well as the Yemeni music of Zion Golan and A-wa. (See links below) My life, taste and choices are a mosaic forged by my Yemeni ancestry, Israeli upbringing and current life in Minnesota.

  A-WA: A trio of Yemeni-Israeli sisters singing Habib Galbi - Sung at our engagement ceremony

A-WA: A trio of Yemeni-Israeli sisters singing Habib Galbi - Sung at our engagement ceremony

So you might ask: how does that affect my cooking? Well, guests around my dinner table can dine on Basmati rice with saffron and cranberries, chicken with Za’atar and caramelized cardamom and pear cake. Somehow the Middle Eastern flavors complement and enhance the Western elements and new flavors emerge. Sadly, it seems that the one place there is harmony in the Middle East is the kitchen…

Bring a little flavor of the Mideast into your home with its delicious food and rhythmic music:

  1. Yotam Ottolenghi’s classic chicken with Za’atar: http://www.ottolenghi.co.uk/roast-chicken-with-sumac-za-atar-and-lemon-shop
  2. Ras El Hanout spice mix: https://www.worldspice.com/blends/ras-el-hanout
  3. Zion Golan: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vdXsrBvIdZM
  4. A-WA: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g3bjZlmsb4A )